"Every year since I can remember, on the eve of Memorial Day for Fallen IDF Soldiers, something grabs hold of my heart. I cannot remember one occasion on which I have not been moved to tears. Something grabs my heart and squeezes it tight."
Those words were written last year on the eve of Memorial Day by First Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal, the 21-year-old soldier killed Tuesday when a rock was hurled at his head in the West Bank village of Yabed, where he was part of an operation to capture and detain terror suspects.
In his moving Facebook post, Ben Yigal wrote:
"Being part of the Golani Brigade means looking at the view from the window of the bus knowing I have walked that land.
It is training with cardboard figures waiting to experience the real thing. Cursing your life and at the same time remembering why you are where you are.
Being a member of the Golani Brigade means sitting on your gear, looking your comrades in the eye and just laughing because you are both thinking of the same thing. It is a deep friendship, which is always surprising...
It is never looking behind you because you know the entire nation is with you.
It is hearing the national anthem and getting goosebumps.
It is not letting who you are, interfere with who you could become.
I am Amit Ben Yigal and I am proud to be part of the Golani Brigade, proud to be part of a years-long tradition, to follow in the footsteps of many before me and be a role model for those who will follow.
In the past two years, I have attended the memorial services in a different role. I am not a civilian, I am a soldier on active duty representing something, and words take on a new meaning and actions have consequences.
I am relating personally to events and thinking if anything were to happen to me, what would happen?
And right away the tears come down trickling down my face as I am struck by this thought:
'Hey, I have a family at home waiting for me, for the noise I bring with me, the laughter at the table, the clothes and a wet towel thrown on the floor, the kiss from my mother, my father's voice as I tell him I am on my way home and how excited he is even if I am still an hour away, but most of all knowing everything is fine.'
And then the tears are no longer a trickle - they are a waterfall and I must make them stop, for I am in uniform."